How Complete is my Tree?

Are you sure that the segment of DNA you share with your DNA match is due to your common 3rd great-grandparents Joe and Sally (Harper) Booth (that’s a fictional couple, by the way) — and not due to a common ancestor you may not yet have found?  How complete is your tree? 

Recently, Blaine Bettinger posted in Facebook’s Genetic Genealogy Tips and  Techniques group, about the completeness of your genealogical tree being critical to accuracy in ascertaining the correct common ancestor with your DNA matches.  He referenced a post by Amberly Beck (see here) in which she discusses the completeness (or lack thereof) of her maternal line.

Rather than looking at just my maternal line or just my paternal line, or even just looking at my whole tree at once, I decided to review my results by grandparent. 

how complete is my tree

I “found” 9 ancestors last year on my maternal side without using DNA at all! Instead, I used DanishFamilySearch.com, a site which has been transcribing Danish census records, and allowing registered users to post their family tree information on their site, and the newly online Danish census records (in Danish, of  course!) at familysearch.org 

So, yay!, that was success for my grandmother’s line.  I now know 4 more of my maternal grandmother’s 16 2nd great-grandparents, and 5 more of my grandmother’s 32 3rd-great grandparents.

As for my 3 other grandparents, there was no change in the past year.  Not surprising, because I spent time on the BU Certificate course for 15 weeks (during which I spent little time on my own genealogy), and I also spent some time continuing to validate with DNA matches my Copple line (which is also on my maternal grandmother’s tree). 

Meaning, as I build out collateral relative trees for my Copple ancestors and find I have — more accurately, my mother has — DNA matches with descendants of those collateral relatives (siblings and 1st cousins of my own ancestors), that is slowly strengthening the case that the DNA shared belongs to the Copple line and not some other unknown line.  (Well, until I am able to build further back; the shared DNA may actually relate to, say, the wife of my most distant Copple ancestor, and not to him.)

I’ve done nothing really on my maternal grandfather’s line — I know the Italian town he came from and his grandparents’ names.  I also know I would likely find records on their parents via the local Catholic church.  As it would likely require assistance from a researcher over in Italy or a trip to Italy myself, it just has not been a priority for me.  Perhaps someday.

Like my maternal grandfather, my paternal grandmother was a first-generation American.  Her uncle was Con Colbert who was executed for his role in the Easter Uprising in 1916.  Consequently, he is somewhat famous in the Republic of Ireland; therefore, some of his family history was researched by a professional genealogist for the centenary in 2016.  So, I have a bit more on her kin than on my maternal grandfather’s kin.  I’ve also been fortunate two years ago to find some of the baptismal and marriage records for her maternal line ancestors (also Irish) online — one such place is here.

I have a “brick wall” at my great-great grandfather Patrick Dempsey.  Per his obituary, he was “of King’s County”.  That’s now County Offaly, but that doesn’t mean he was born and baptized there.  It may just mean he was from there last before coming to America circa 1850 or so.  There are about a half-dozen potential Patrick Dempseys baptised in Co. Offaly when he was thought to be born (ca. 1830), but I have no oral history as to his family.   Maybe his parents and siblings died in the Famine?

This year, I’d like to find out more about my paternal grandfather’s maternal grandparents: Anderson and Ermine (Farnham? Farley?) Lamburth — Grandpa Dempsey’s one line that has reportedly been in the U.S. since at least 1800.  Of course, I’d also like to break the brick walls of my 3rd great-grandmother (aka my maternal grandmother’s great-grandma) Phoebe Harvey — or her mother-in-law Margaret (Blalock) Copple.  We’ll see.

How about you?  Do you have a particular line you’re thinking of researching next?   

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